Philippa Donnellan

Philippa Donnellan, Justin Grounds, Justine Cooper, Tomasz Madajczak
19 June to 30 June 2023

Led by Dublin based Choreographer Philippa Donnellan with dance artist Justine Cooper, and West Cork-based Musician/Composer Justin Grounds and visual artist Tomasz Madajczak.

TAKING FLIGHT: exploring themes of confinement and the power of the imagination, sets out to delve into the world of dreams and make believe inspired by personal experience, movement, music and imagery.

What happens when your whole world is confined? How do you remain resilient? Can you experience a sense of freedom or autonomy? Might you inhabit another imaginative life where dreams, memories and fantasies allow you to fly?

This dance residency expands our collaboration with Uillinn that began in 2022 through support from an Arts Council Dance Bursary Award and an Uillinn Artist Residency. Designed originally to enable collaborative interdisciplinary research, it bought together the four artists and introduced artists and communities for the first time.

It was a wonderfully rich experience– and a lot of fun! Time flew by, yet it was so valuable in giving us a moment to experiment and to discover what was possible and impossible! It certainly raised some critical questions about the themes – and helped connect me to some great people working in the arts and in health in West Cork. Philippa

Here’s a snapshot of our research at Uillinn in 2022

In this new residency, supported by Uillinn's Arts for Health, West Cork programme and the network that the programme has established, the team of artists will continue to creatively engage with health professionals, artists working in healthcare, and older people attending day care and long-term healthcare settings, along with the wider West Cork community to facilitate development of a new professional dance theatre piece in 2024.

We’re delighted to be invited to continue! Together we will embark on a fresh journey that will take us out of the studio and back into the local community – to take a collective dive into the themes to let imaginations fly and ideas to form. Philippa

The residency will include a series of exploratory dance/music activities open to local groups and individuals and guided by the artists. These will offer opportunity for people to connect and collaborate – to dance, sing, dream and create choreography together, to explore the themes through music, poetry and visual art, and if so wished, to conjure up varied ‘dream choreographies’ that will be filmed and recorded at select locations by the professional team.

Social and informal, the activities will also offer plenty of space for conversation and provide a chance for people to share experiences, and contribute ideas and thematic information as desired.

Come join us, we’re looking forward to once again taking flight!

TAKING FLIGHT research and Development is supported by an Arts Council Dance Bursary 2022.

Image above: Taking Flight R&D photograph by Tomasz Madajczak

Dance Research Residency TAKING FLIGHT 2022 
Phase 1: 4 July to 16 July and Phase 2: 5 December to 11 December 2022

Taking Flight is a dance residency led by Dublin based Choreographer Philippa Donnellan with dance artist Justine Cooper, and West Cork-based Musician/Composer Justin Grounds.

'Over the past few years, I have witnessed several older people’s experiences of restricted living, of their becoming socially isolated and physically vulnerable – and of their resilience and capacity for joy, fun and devilment. These made me reflect on issues of fragility, autonomy and control, and the power of the imagination as a form of creative escape. I began to wonder about other people’s experiences in similar situations, and how I might respond artistically through creation of performance; considerations which led me to Uillinn and this residency' - Philippa Donnellan

Public creative engagement – an opportunity to meet, dance, talk, and discover

Beginning in July (phase 1) will focus on field work with Philippa beginning conversations with arts and health professionals around some of the research themes and the complexities within. Philippa will be working with Justin Grounds to lead a series of imaginative dance/music workshops in healthcare centres and at Uillinn with invited participation throughout July. 

In December (phase 2), all three artists will be primarily studio based to continue choreographic and musical experimentation. The collective will also be spending time connecting with the community network they built up in phase 1.

Philippa Donnellan is a choreographer based in Dublin. Originally from the UK, she is passionate about making dance theatre by engaging with people of all experiences and exploring themes that respond to the time and place in which we live. Most recently, she collaborated with dancer Ailish Claffey on creation and performance of DANCE BUALADH BOS for older age audiences, supported by Kildare Arts Service & Creative Ireland. As Curator of DL.BRIDGE/Dance Limerick, she has led THE ROAD WE LIVE ON an intergenerational community project with a St John’s Brass & Reed band, and WOMEN & WORK, THE CONTRACT detailing women’s experience of work and performed in Limerick Chambers for Culture Night 2021. Between 2006 – 2020, Philippa was Director of CoisCéim BROADREACH with whom she led a range of projects in partnership with different institutions, organisations and communities.

Instagram: @philippadonnellan / Facebook: Philippa Donnellan

Photograph by Sheryl Tait.

Arts for Health is based in West Cork and provides a managed and integrated arts programme for older people in healthcare settings.

The Arts for Health programme is based on an inter-agency partnership between West Cork Arts Centre, Cork County Council's Arts Office, Cork Education & Training Board and Cork Kerry Community Healthcare. Cork Kerry Community Healthcare is represented by Cork South Community Work Department, the Nursing Directors of Community Hospitals and the Day Care Centres, West Cork. 

The Arts for Health partnership gratefully acknowledges the local support towards the programme with special thanks to Friends of the Hospitals and Day Care Centres.


WCAC acknowledges the financial support of the Arts Council and Cork County Council in making these residencies possible.

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